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Russia’s RT broadcaster accuses France of rejecting journalists

January 15, 2018

Russian state broadcaster RT on Monday accused France’s presidency of turning away its journalists, saying employees from its new French-language channel were refused accreditation twice in a week.

President Emmanuel Macron announced plans in early January for legislation to stop the spread of fake news in a veiled reference to RT and state news agency Sputnik, which he has called spreaders of “deceitful propaganda” and “organs of influence”.

“The Elysee (French presidential palace) has refused accreditation to our journalists twice in one week,” RT editor Margarita Simonian said in a statement on the channel’s website.

A journalist from RT France, launched in December, was turned away from a spokesman’s briefing at the Elysee palace in Paris on Monday, the statement said.

“When I said I worked for RT, I was told that I was not a journalist and only journalists were allowed in,” said an RT reporter, adding that he had presented his press card.

The broadcaster said it was also rebuffed in Rome on January 10, when the “French president’s team did not authorise RT to attend a summit” of southern European Union leaders.

“The request for accreditation was accepted, but when our team arrived in Italy, the Elysee press service stopped responding to calls from our journalists,” according to RT.

“I advise President Macron to carefully re-read the French constitution,” Simonian said.

Also on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised Macron’s proposed fake news legislation.

The fake news will only be “defined by one party, without discussion, without proof, ignoring any argument,” Lavrov said.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.